Grape, Again!

  • Review
By – March 22, 2023

In this epis­to­lary sequel to the young adult nov­el Grape!, we learn about the best and worst days in the busy life of a trou­bled sev­enth grad­er nick­named Grape. His sum­mer starts off well: he learns that he won’t be sent to a spe­cial junior high school for dif­fi­cult stu­dents, because he has instead been accept­ed into an advanced Eng­lish class. But things go down­hill when he dis­cov­ers that his best friend, Lou, is mov­ing from New York City to the Catskills to live with his dad. The sto­ry unfolds in let­ters from Grape to Lou as he tries to keep his friend apprised of his life.

Some high­lights include Grape’s bar mitz­vah lessons, his new school, his crush Clair, and his mom’s preg­nan­cy. Woven into the episodes of Grape’s life are his strug­gles with his men­tal health, which he describes as spi­ders in his brain” and which often put him in dif­fi­cult situations.

Read­ers will appre­ci­ate Arquilevich’s engag­ing writ­ing, Grape’s eccen­tric per­son­al­i­ty, and the relat­able pains of mid­dle school life.

Paula Chaiken has worked in a vari­ety of capac­i­ties in the Jew­ish world — teach­ing in reli­gious school, curat­ing at the Sper­tus Muse­um and fundrais­ing for the Fed­er­a­tion — for more than twen­ty years. She also runs a bou­tique pub­lic rela­tions con­sult­ing firm and enjoys read­ing all sorts of books with her three sons.

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